There’s not a lot of glamour in hard rock these days. Nu-metal beasts are no longer roaring through a powerful mouthpiece like the one MTV provided the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach in the heyday of the Family Values Tour. Columbus “active rock” station 99.7 The Blitz’s playlist seems to have been cast in stone sometime around Y2K. From the far reaches of the avant-garde to the heartiest meat-and-potatoes rock, metal is almost entirely an underground phenomenon.
So how does a band like Central Ohio’s XFactor1 (with members in Blacklick, Delaware, Mansfield, Newark and Pataskala) stand a chance of ascending to the kind of rock stardom their forebears once enjoyed? Pure hustle.
“We sold over 55,000 CDs as an independent artist,” frontman Ricky “QBall” Wolf said. “We did that by following the Mayhem Uproar and Carnival of Chaos festivals and selling them in the parking lots to people who were tailgating.”
The band was able to push between 200 and 500 CDs per day at $5 a pop, earning enough to stay on the road and even crack Billboard’s Heatseekers chart for four weeks in 2010.
“We’re meeting people in the parking lot, we’re keeping it real, we’re showing our passion and our hunger,” Wolf said.
The grunt work yielded rewards both short-term (“We’d get trashed every day on other people’s booze,” Wolf said) and long-term. Last year, the legendary Megaforce Records (Metallica, Bad Brains, Anthrax) released XFactor1’s third album Famous.Last.Words.
The record deal was a nice validation after years of hard work. Wolf formed XFactor1 in 2006 after his previous project Superfreak dissolved. The lineup shuffled a lot, but in one form or another XFactor1 has maintained a schedule of 125-150 shows a year, including tours with the likes of Smile Empty Soul, Dope and Bobaflex. In 2009, they became the first local band to play Rock on the Range, an appearance they’ll reprise this year.
The only chance to see them in the area before that is Friday at Screamin’ Willie’s for a Valentine’s bash called The Heartbreakers Ball. What to expect? Wolf: “It’s a great beer-and-bitches rock atmosphere.”